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Research Spending & Results

Award Detail

Doing Business As Name:University of California-Irvine
  • Anne Marie Piper
  • (847) 467-4198
Award Date:09/18/2020
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ 163,093
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 163,093
  • FY 2019=$80,227
  • FY 2020=$82,866
Start Date:07/01/2020
End Date:01/31/2021
Transaction Type:Grant
Awarding Agency Code:4900
Funding Agency Code:4900
CFDA Number:47.070
Primary Program Source:040100 NSF RESEARCH & RELATED ACTIVIT
Award Title or Description:CAREER: Advancing Online Social Support for Older Adults with Disabilities
Federal Award ID Number:2052424
DUNS ID:046705849
Parent DUNS ID:071549000
Program:HCC-Human-Centered Computing
Program Officer:
  • Ephraim Glinert
  • (703) 292-8930

Awardee Location

Street:141 Innovation Drive, Ste 250
Awardee Cong. District:45

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:University of California-Irvine
Street:Donald Bren Hall 5216
Cong. District:45

Abstract at Time of Award

The field of human-computer interaction has yet to address the complexities of designing online social technologies for older adults with severe late-life disability, a challenging problem that will grow in importance and scale with future generations. Social computing has changed how people communicate to such a degree that exclusion from online experiences can mean exclusion from critical aspects of society, and older adults are particularly vulnerable to such exclusion. While many people age without significant disability, one in four Americans who are 65 and older has a severe disability. Contact with one's social support network becomes increasingly important as health declines, whereas late-life health conditions and associated disability make staying connected difficult. A promising solution to this emerging problem is the PI's concept of "hybrid social computing" in which familiar communication interfaces are integrated with online social platforms while harnessing support networks to enable and protect users online. In this project the PI will focus on two pervasive conditions among older adults: late-life vision impairments and late-life speech-language impairments. She will utilize field research methods to understand the needs and challenges around online interaction for the two populations of study. She will then refine and extend three innovative prototypes developed in preliminary work, and rigorously evaluate the effects of these new tools through usability and field studies. Without online tools for older adults with severe late-life disabilities, we are unable to study the effects of online interaction for those who may benefit most, and the benefits may be vast. Staying socially connected can affect late-life physical and mental health, and staying connected online is associated with lower rates of depression and loneliness among older adults. With evidence of how the developed systems support online interaction, the results will impact strategies to promote late-life social connectedness and well-being. The integrated education and outreach plan fosters experiential learning with local community impact, including a mentorship program that enriches an accompanying undergraduate curriculum while drawing community members with disabilities into university activities. The PI will release the developed software as open source. The goal of this research is to develop a conceptual and technical framework for enabling and studying online social support for older adults with severe late-life disabilities. Extending an active program of research, this work will contribute: a conceptual and technical framework for connecting familiar communication interfaces with dynamic online systems while enabling and protecting users; new knowledge of the needs and challenges around online interaction in the context of late-life disability, providing the foundation for the proposed framework through design guidelines and a taxonomy; three innovative hybrid social computing applications, which will further refine this framework and introduce new techniques for accessible online interaction; and empirical and theoretical understandings of online communication for two understudied populations, including evidence of how online interaction affects social well-being. The integrated education plan involves developing a community-based mentorship program, which will extend a new undergraduate curriculum on design, computing, and disability. The proposed framework is potentially transformative in that it enables new forms of online interaction, making it possible to examine phenomena of online behavior with entirely new demographics. The rapid evolution of social computing presents major research challenges for many disciplines; this research will contribute new knowledge, new tools, and a new framework to address interdisciplinary challenges across computer science, communication studies, and gerontology.

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